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£49 games and the Nintendo Switch

£49 games and the Nintendo Switch

Something has worried me ever since the Nintendo Switch was announced. It is this. Nintendo will find it hard to convince me that paying £49 for a game on their system represents good value. “Oh!” You shriek, “Just because it is a console that can be played on the go doesn’t mean it is less valuable to the consumer or the industry. You’re prolly just a AAA snob.”

(comparison chart from TechRadar)

Here’s an analogy… Let’s say that you work in the car industry. Your company makes great software for braking systems and you sell that software to G-Wiz to put in their brand new low horse-powered micro car. Unfortunately, the G-Wiz can not get to a high enough speed to justify the use of your new brake system, but the McLaren F1 can make full use of it so you sell it to the high powered McLaren at the same price. The owners of the G-wiz are getting the same software, but will never be able to use it at the same level as the McLaren. Nintendo are trying to sell their games for the Switch as if they are running on a McLaren but they’re not, they are the G-Wiz.

It appears to me that any games being sold on the Switch that were released on other platforms will never be at the same level of performance that they reached on the consoles or PC’s they were originally designed to be played. So, why are people expected to pay the same price for them? You may argue, that the Nintendo Switch is a console first and a handheld second and that “The portability it provides will make up for the shortfall on technical proficiency.” That is possibly correct. However, shouldn’t that be factored into the price of the console itself and not individual software sales?

Let’s look at the price, £279. At £279 it is more expensive than the basic PS4 and basic Xbox One consoles. MORE EXPENSIVE while being technically inferior in every measurable way. Yes, the PS4 and Xbox One are sold “at a loss” but they make  that money back on the software sales. Nintendo Switch isn’t being sold at a loss and is still the same price as these technologically superior consoles despite having inferior hardware.

Nintendo, in classic Nintendo form, are trying to have their cake and eat it and I believe that this has hurt it.

A Nintendo currant cake. Not being eaten, currently

Games developed in-house and exclusive to the Switch will have no comparative yardstick on which to measure other consoles. Those games will have extra pressure on them to prove that Nintendo can still create great games. Since Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 is being pre-purchased at £49 they will have to pull out all the stops to convince the world that £49 for a game on a technically inferior device is worth it.

What I am saying is, If Nintendo chooses to release Skyrim, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, Setsuna and all other multiplatform games at the same price as other console and PC versions with very little or no improvements on previous releases, why would I buy it on a Switch? Just to be able to play it on a bus? Not me.

Editorial – I applaud the SJW

Editorial – I applaud the SJW

The ‘gaming community’ (if there even is one these days) has proven to contain dark groups of characters that like nothing better than to harass women and claim that there is a clique of games journalists trying to destroy their hobby by shining a light on issues…like the harassment of women. Things came to the fore a few weeks ago with the targeting of Zoe Quinn (this is a good summary of events) and more recently when Anita Sarkeesian left her home after threats were made against her (see the lowdown on The Verge). This come admist a bomb threat made about a flight Sony’s John Smedley (check that on BBC News) was on recently.

It all stinks and reveals that the gaming community has bigger problems than rumoured corruption in the games press (as Emma Woolley highlights). Leigh Alexander also makes some strong points over on Gamasutra

A fairly neutral news story on the Anita Sarkeesian situation on PCGamesN was ripped apart in the comments, so much so that normally friendly community saw the comments closed.

Amongst all this have been the cries about ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (see header image) “ruining our [as in gamer’s] hobby”. As a part time writer who runs a fairly inconsequential website in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have the time to write about the issues that I cited above as much as I wished. If I did, I wouldn’t doubt that some would brand me with SJW label. I’d say, bring it on. I fully applaud those in the games press who are bringing these issues of harassment to our attention.

Isn’t that what the media and press are there to do? To bring people’s attention to issues within different communities? If all we ever saw from gaming websites was news stories about the latest trailer for the next big AAA game or review for the latest entry in an ageing AAA franchise, we wouldn’t see any progress as a what should be a community of people who are interested in games.

It takes people like Leigh Alexander, John Walker, Nathan Grayson and others to let bring our attention to the darker elements of the gaming world. They shouldn’t have to, as there shouldn’t be issues where developers are being harassed and threatened, but sadly we live in a world where that happens. So I applaud them, and other members of the SJW for bringing these troubling stories to light.

It might be helpful if the gaming press provided greater clarity on what is a news article and what is an opinion piece, that way those who don’t want to read about the actions of misogynists and trolls don’t have to. But really, if they don’t want to read about the darker side of gaming, they don’t need to click on the article, they don’t need to read all the way to the bottom and they certainly don’t need to leave comments that leave me questioning the nature of human beings.

Personally, I liken those who are rallying against the coverage of the dark side of gaming to those who call for the abolition of the European Convention on Human Rights. I mean, why would you argue against something which sets out our human rights in law?

I’ll stop before I get into a political debate, but I would like to make one last point. The British newspapers have many issues (just look at the phone hacking scandal), but they tend to be united on one thing. They all speak from the same voice with regards to racism in sport, and increasingly so when it comes to sexism in sport.

If the mainstream press can shine a light on the darker elements that exist in sport, why can’t we in the games press?

Go forth those labelled as Social Justice Warriors, I support you.

Bumbling on Bundle Rumbles

Bumbling on Bundle Rumbles

2011 has arguably been the year of the Indie bundle. In the last year, there have been five bundles from the most famous of these – the Humble Indie Bundle – alone, and some quick maths tells us that if you had bought every single Humble bundle at just one cent above the average price (thus getting any extra games offered) when each bundle ended according to Wikipedia, you would now have twenty-eight games for a total cost of a mind-boggling £16.03 (About $24.99). With these figures – and other new bundles appearing at a startling rate – it’s not hard to see why some are starting to question whether these bundles are doing more harm than good.

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